Wednesday, February 2, 2011
World Day for Consecrated Life honors our men and women religious
When Christ was presented in the temple, "there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel." When St. Mary and St. Joseph brought Christ to the temple, Simeon embraced the Child and prayed the Canticle of Simeon.
Because of the words of the canticle ("a light to the revelation of the Gentiles"), by the 11th century, the custom had developed in the West of blessing candles on the Feast of the Presentation. The candles were then lit, and a procession took place through the darkened church while the Canticle of Simeon was sung. Because of this, the feast also became known as Candlemas. While the procession and blessing of the candles is not often performed in the United States today, Candlemas is still an important feast in many European countries.